Dubai: The UAE’s Mohammad Al Hammadi is confident he can bring home a gold medal when he participates in the 100 metres at the London Paralympic Games on Saturday after securing a silver in the 200m on Tuesday.
Al Hammadi looked set for gold in the men’s T34 200-metre at the Olympic Stadium late on Tuesday, but a slow start did not help. “I could have got a gold in the 200 metres, but I missed it by a whisker due to a bad start,” Al Hammadi told Gulf News from London yesterday.
“That’s part of the sport really. Besides I was nervous,” he said.
“But now I know what it takes to be at a Paralympics and I am confident there will be gold in the 100 metres on September 8,” Al Hammadi added.
A member of the Al Thiqah Club Sharjah, the 27-year-old employee from Sharjah TV raced a season’s best time of 28.39 seconds to end up behind Hong Kong’s Walid Ktila, who went on to set a world record with a time of 27.98 secs.
The Sharjah-based athlete, who was born with cerebral palsy, started training seven years back. However, a lack of support and work obligations forced him to stop for a year.
“But I was intent on fulfilling a dream for myself and my country and I started training in earnest for London about two years back, so today I can be proud of what I have achieved,” he said. “I went to the training ground today (Wednesday) and I have a good feeling inside me and I think I can turn this 200m silver into a gold medal in the 100m on Saturday,” he said. Meanwhile, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of theDubai Sports Council, was among the prominent sports personalities who congratulated the UAE’s gold medallist Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani on Tuesday.
In a telephone conversation with Al Aryani, Shaikh Hamdan expressed his hopes for success for the UAE shooter and all other members of the UAE Paralympic squad in London.
However, Al Aryani, who bagged the gold in the mixed R6-50m rifle prone competition on Tuesday, could not add to his medal yesterday as he ended in sixth place in the men’s R7-50m rifle 3 positions-SH1 category at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Arsenal Woolwich.
However, the highlight for the UAE was that both the country’s shooters, Al Aryani and teammate Obaid Al Dahmani, figured in the eight-man final that was eventually won by world champion Jonas Jakobsson of Sweden.
Al Aryani was placed sixth with a total of 1,229.7, while Al Dahmani was eighth with a total of 1,225.4.
But the biggest disappointment coming the UAE squad’s way was when two-time Paralympic medallist Mohammad Khamis Khalaf failed to finish on the podium in the men’s -90kg powerlifting competition at the ExCel Arena in East London late on Tuesday.
Khalaf, who won gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and a silver at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, failed in his opening attempt of 215kg to finish at the bottom of the nine-member field, with Egypt’s Hany Abdel Hady emerging triumphant with a lift of 241 kilograms.